Please select your home edition
Edition
Festival of Sails 2017

NOAA expedition discovers ship’s timepiece silent for nearly 200 years

by NOAA Research on 2 Sep 2014
NOAA and partners, operating undersea robots with cameras, discovered this chronometer hiding beneath the sediment at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA . http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/
Using undersea robots, a team of NOAA-led marine archeologists discovered a ship’s chronometer where time has stood still for about 200 years at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

This was the latest discovery made as part of the Gulf of Mexico expedition by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.


On April 17, pilots aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer guided camera-laden undersea robots, called remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), over the seafloor 200 miles off Galveston, Texas, as scientists at sea and ashore directed the cameras to comb the remains of a shipwreck, believed to be from the early 1800s.

From an Exploration Command Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, Frank Cantelas, a marine archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, spotted a partly buried circular object on the live video. Cantelas, his colleague James Delgado, director of maritime heritage in NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and other scientists were commenting on views of a ship’s octant – a navigator’s measuring instrument -- that was nearly buried in sediment except for its mirrors. Suddenly Cantelas spotted this other object a few feet away. When the ROV’s cameras zeroed in, scientists were amazed to see the ancient timepiece. An expedition a year ago had missed the ship’s chronometer.


'Do you see a dial, and a hand inside the circle as well,' Delgado asked the team that day. As the camera zoomed in, a scientist in Galveston added, 'You can see Roman numerals.' The chronometer’s hand appeared to be pointing to 6:30.

In an Exploration Command Center at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Jack Irion, a regional historic preservation officer with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the chronometer’s discovery was rare and significant. While other evidence from the wreck suggests the ship predates 1825, it was unusual for merchant ships to have such an expensive instrument. 'For this to appear on a merchant ship in the Gulf of Mexico at this early date is extraordinary,' he said.


A British carpenter perfected the design for the chronometer in 1761 -- a clock that could keep accurate time on a rolling ship at sea, so that sailors could determine their position by measuring the angle of the sun relative to high noon in Greenwich, England. The devices were so expensive initially that few ships carried them. It wasn't until 1825 that British Royal Navy ships carried chronometers.

'This chronometer is an object worthy of scientific recovery, preservation treatment to reverse the corrosive effects of two centuries in the sea, detailed study and eventually, display in a museum,' said Delgado.

Some scientists conjectured that if sailors survived a crisis at sea, they would have taken the valuable chronometer with them, leading scientists to theorize there may have been no survivors.


NOAA explores the largely unknown ocean to obtain baseline information that is vital to informing decisions by ocean resource managers and policy makers. This includes investigating shipwrecks to determine if they may be significant national maritime heritage sites. Such sites require not only study, but protection in partnership with industry and other federal partners.

The Office of Ocean Exploration and Research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency in the Department of Commerce, is leading the expedition in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), both in the Department of the Interior; The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University; the Texas Historical Commission; and the Maryland Historical NOAA Research website

Harken AUS Reflex 660x82T Clewring One Designnavathome 660x82

Related Articles

Terry Kohler, driving force of North Technology dies at 82
Terry Kohler who purchased North Sails was the driving force behind the North Technology Group, has died aged 82 Terry Kohler who purchased North Sails from Lowell North over 30 years ago and was the driving force behind the North Technology Group, has died aged 82. With the combined company of North sails and Southern Spars, Kohler created the 'Engine above the Deck' concept which married the technology used to build the sails and spars to be designed and work as an integral unit.
Posted on 21 Sep
'Grate Art' in Hong Kong
Hong Kong charity pioneers environmental awareness through innovative storm grate installations In an effort to help Hong Kongers play their part in protecting the world’s ocean, Ocean Recovery Alliance is raising awareness through a unique public art installation called ‘Grate Art’. Hong Kong’s drainage system is one of the main sources for debris outflow into the ocean, and Ocean Recovery Alliance is tackling this problem upstream through an initiative that uses “art for awareness”.
Posted on 14 Sep
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Rio official murdered ten months before the Olympics
Rio de Janeiro is a troubled city and a reeling Olympic host, but it will always have beautiful Guanabara Bay. Does an unsolved murder of an official in Rio in charge of cleaning up Guanabara Bay say a lot about the state of platy in the magical city? Priscilla Pereira was murdered 10 months ago and the thinking is that she was murdered in relation to her work
Posted on 31 Jul
WHO statement on Zika virus
The third meeting of the EC convened by the Director-General under IHR 2005 regarding microcephaly and Zika virus The third meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR 2005) regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus was held by teleconference on 14 June 2016, from 13:00 to 17:15 Central European Time.
Posted on 16 Jun
Zika virus situation report
From 1 January 2007 to 16 March 2016, Zika virus transmission was documented in a total of 59 countries and territories. From 1 January 2007 to 16 March 2016, Zika virus transmission was documented in a total of 59 countries and territories. Cuba and Dominica are the latest to report autochthonous (local) transmission of Zika virus on 14 and 15 March, respectively. Five of these countries and territories reported a Zika virus outbreak that is now over.
Posted on 2 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb
Land Rover BAR partners with Seabin to clean the oceans + Video
Recent research shows that between 5m and 12m tonnes of plastic find their way into the ocean every year. Recent research shows that between 5m and 12m tonnes of plastic find their way into the ocean every year. This is adding rapidly to the five trillion pieces - weighing around 270,000 tonnes - that are calculated to already be polluting the world's seas and oceans. Some estimates show that by 2050 the weight of plastic is likely to outweigh that of fish.
Posted on 23 Feb
Eco-warriors Sea-Bin crowd sharing critical stage with nine days to go
The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised 86% of their target with 9 days left. The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised $198,020 of $230,000.00 with nine days left on their Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, but they need more help now.
Posted on 29 Dec 2015
Don’t be a Tosser – Not your usual environmental article!!
The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. There is no need for me to tell you the other meaning that is commonly used around the world. However in this article it will refer to both at the same time as someone who tosses trash into the ocean, truly is a tosser.
Posted on 3 Dec 2015